The Nepali Congress has officially decided to join the coalition government led by CPN (Maoist Center). The two parties, which had forged an alliance to contest the general election in November last year, had fallen out over a power-sharing dispute after the polls and gone separate ways.
The Maoist went on to form a government with the primary backing of the CPN-UML on 25 December 2022, while the NC helmed the opposition. But the Maoist-UML coalition broke up within two months, once again bringing the Maoist and NC together.
With this, a race has begun inside the NC for ministerial posts. A party meeting on Sunday set criteria for ministerial candidates to represent the party in the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government.
Congress Spokesperson Prakash Sharan Mahat said candidates would be selected on the basis of academic qualifications, contribution to the party, inclusivity, and balance of power at the provincial level.
President Sher Bahadur Deuba will pick the candidates on the basis of policy-decision taken by the party, he added. Prime Minister Dahal is set to give full shape to his Cabinet after taking the vote of confidence in Parliament on Monday.
The NC has demanded eight ministries in the Dahal government in order to accommodate the leaders from the camps led by Shekhar Koirala, Krishna Prasad Situala, and Prakash Man Singh. He must also make room for some leaders from President Ram Chandra Poudel-led faction as well as his own supporters.
One Congress leader told ApEx that Deuba has a tough job of satisfying everyone inside the party, including those from the rival factions.
Members of the chief rival camp, led by Koirala, had backed Deuba’s decision to give the trust vote to Dahal back in January, and now they expect the party leadership to reciprocate the gesture by offering them positions in the government.
It is almost certain that the NC will get two vital ministries—finance and foreign affairs. It is said Deuba’s spouse Arzoo Deuba has shown interest to lead the foreign ministry, while Mahat is trying to land the finance portfolio.
Senior leader Singh, who fought for the party presidency and later supported Deuba, is said to be making a bid for deputy prime ministership to lead the NC in the government.